How to Do Alternating Dumbbell Press Properly

Although it is not clear on where or when the exercise originated from, the earliest instance of the alternating dumbbell press workout dates back to 1970s when bodybuilding took off in the United States.

The alternating dumbbell press is a great exercise for increasing strength and muscle. It is a bench press performed with dumbbells where you push the weight with alternating arms.

HOW TO DO THE ALTERNATING DUMBBELL PRESS PROPERLY

You will find it simple especially if you have done the dumbbell bench press or the chest press before.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to get it right;

  • Set up the dumbbells at the end of the flat bench. You can also use an inclined bench which will lay more emphasis on your upper pectorals.
  • Pick the dumbbells off the floor while maintaining a neutral grip with your palms facing inwards. Place the dumbbells at the edge of your quads.
  • Push the dumbbells with your legs in order to lift them off and lie with your back on the bench. It is important to have the weights above your chest with your arms extended without locking your elbows.
  • Lower the weights down slowly so that your elbows are bent and the dumbbells just off your outer chest. Avoid going too wide or too narrow and aim for shoulder width as this is the sweetest spot. This also marks your starting position.
  • Push the dumbbells upwards as high as you can, slowly, without locking your elbows. Lower it to the starting position.
  • Repeat with the other arm and lower it back to the starting position. This is one rep.
  • Repeat for the desired number of times.

WHAT MUSCLES DO ALTERNATING DUMBBELL PRESS WORK?

Similar to the bench press, the alternating dumbbell press is also a compound exercise. The only difference that exists between them is that in the latter, there is some isolation involved. In other words, the alternating dumbbell press is the best of both worlds.

It involves almost every major muscle group in your upper body.

However, unknown to many is the fact that it also engages a lot of stabiliser muscles, which helps to improve balance and form.

Below are the muscles worked by this workout.

PECTORALIS MAJOR

Commonly known as the upper chest, the pectoralis major is the biggest muscle in your chest and any variation of the chest press will primarily target them.

Improper force distribution will easily cause these muscles’ imbalance. This makes the alternating dumbbell press most effective because the move will ensure equal force distribution to both sides of your chest.

ANTERIOR DELTOID

When it comes to targeting the anterior deltoid, which is the front portion of your shoulders, there is no better exercise that the alternating dumbbell press. This exercise allows your shoulders to perform the press without necessarily putting more pressure on the deltoids.

BICEPS AND TRICEPS

The two parts involved in alternating dumbbell press includes lowering the weight and holding it off your chest while the other arm is lifting the weight. The second part is when you push the weight upwards and lower it again.

The first part acts like an isometric hold, strengthening your biceps, engaging your forearms and wrists.

On the other hand, the second part is an excellent triceps exercise similar to the close grip bench press.

CLAVICLE

Commonly known to us as the collar bone, your clavicle always suffers under the stress of bearing the brunt of heavy barbel bench presses. This is because of the strain that is placed on the joint that connects your clavicle to your shoulders- acromioclavicular.

The alternating dumbbell press will instead help you to strengthen your clavicle. If you have had collar bone injuries, consider the alternative dumbbell press a quicker way of healing and increasing mobility.

ALTERNATIVES TO ALTERNATING DUMBBELL PRESS

While there are not so many alternatives to the alternating dumbbell press because there are very few exercises that will allow you to isolate one part of your body, if you are looking for equally good exercises, they are as follows:

THE REGULAR DUMBBELL PRESS

Compared to the alternating dumbbell press, you lower down the dumbbells together instead of alternating your arms.

ALTERNATING DUMBBELL CURL

Instead of lying on a bench, the alternating dumbbell curl will require you to stand and lift the dumbbells while on your feet. It will also require you to rotate your wrists so that your palm faces your shoulders at the top of a single movement.

BARBELL BENCH PRESS

This will require you to use barbells instead of the dumbbells.

BENEFITS OF ALTERNATING DUMBBELL PRESS

BEGINNER FRIENDLY

Generally, any dumbbell version of a barbel version exercise is a great place for a beginner to start from. Compared to the barbels, the dumbbells are easier to control and will allow you to work on your form.

FIXES MUSCLE IMBALANCES

As mentioned earlier, this workout can fix imbalances on your pectoralis major.

SAFE TO TRAIN ALONE

It is safer to do alone and you will not need a spotter.

MISTAKES TO AVOID WHEN DOING ALTERNATING DUMBBELL PRESS

Below are some tips to avoid while doing the alternating dumbbell press

Avoid arching your back or lifting your head. Keep them flat on the bench or ground to avoid risk of injury.

Avoid heavy ego lifts as this will put your form at risk

Warm up your rotator cuff, which is responsible for your mobility, range of motion and stability in your shoulders.

Push the weight straight up and avoid pushing in an arch as this can lead to injuries.

CONCLUSION

Inasmuch as it is one of the easiest exercises, the alternating dumbbell press can make a major impact in increasing chest and muscle tone in your chest and triceps, but only if it is well done.